Secret wartime bunker revealed under town hall
DID you know that there is a secret war bunker tucked away under one of Merseyside’s town halls?
The docks made Bootle a key target in World War II and up to 90% of the town’s homes were damaged during the Liverpool Blitz.
The escort ships which protected the convoys crossing the ocean during the Battle of the Atlantic were based at the town’s Gladstone Dock. Around 4,000 people were killed in the Merseyside area.
Underneath Bootle Town Hall lies an almost untouched World War II bunker and decontamination room.
A haunting tunnel leads to the bunker, which was known as ‘King Arthur’s Room’.
The room is now used as storage, but during the Blitz, it housed hundreds of terrified people.
It is also thought that during the war, the Town Hall basement was used as a control centre where information was analysed, and became a base for a radar air defence system.
A further crawl through and you come to the decontamination and cleansing station.
There is an airlock door at each end of the room consisting of two gas tight doors.
On the wall there is a sign that says ‘Undressing room – Remove underclothing and place in bins’
Bootle Town Hall is open for public tours, during which you can see war memorabilia such as first aid guidance, gas masks, as well as a huge number of historic items.
The war bunker and decontamination room, however, are not open to the public.
During WWII, Bootle suffered huge loss of life. One notable incident was a direct hit on a Co-Op air raid shelter on the corner of Ash Street and Stanley Road.
The exact total of casualties is unclear, though dozens of bodies were recovered and placed in a temporary mortuary which itself was later destroyed by incendiaries with over 180 corpses inside.
Bootle Town Hall itself was significantly damaged, but has since been rebuilt.
● Above left and above, views of the decontamination room in the World War II bunker under Bootle Town Hall, right